I got rid of my smartphone. Yep. It’s true.
Well, first, I deactivated my Facebook account. And that was fine, too. Actually, it was better than fine. It felt great. I was getting a little sharing fatigue. Too much sharing and too much thinking about sharing.
Have you ever been somewhere really beautiful – like the Grand Canyon – and you start to think to yourself, “How can I share this on Facebook?” Then you think, “How should I write the post?” or “Should I do just one photo or an album?” And that inevitably leads to, “I wonder what people will think of this.” Before you know it 10-15 minutes of your time at the Grand Canyon have gone by and the whole time you were thinking about Facebook. Ugh.
I hate that feeling. Twice before I’ve deactivated my account because I really hate that.
But those two times I deactivated my account weren’t the first time I deactivated it. The first time was when I first got my Facebook account and I got hooked on little red numbers. I could feel a small boost of dopamine every time that “bleem” sound a little red “1” would appear in response to my posts.
Oooh! Someone liked my post! Wow, that feels good.
After I realized those little red numbers felt too good, I deleted my account. And after a couple of days, it felt good to be off Facebook, too.
The first time I deactivated my account, I had only been on Facebook for a few months. After about a month of doing my own thing in my return to a Facebook-free life, I started to wonder what my friends were up to. So I made a few phone calls to check in. A really disappointing answer came from nearly everyone I called: “Well, it’s all right up there on Facebook.”
It was the end of an era. My friends had adopted Facebook as a sharing platform and to be in their lives in a meaningful way meant that I checked in with their Facebook pages from time to time. I couldn’t just opt-out of the platform unless I wanted to opt-out from a part of my friends’ lives that was really important to them.
Now, I’m on my fourth deactivation of my account. This time I did it on Thanksgiving. And I’ve been thinking about how to add Facebook back into my life without getting sucked into the drama…without losing an hour or two a day to it. To check in with my friends and my beloved mold groups occasionally, but be a little more insulated from the group think and the little red numbers addiction.
After giving it some thought, I could only come up with one answer. Ditch the smartphone.
Without the smartphone, I can only check into Facebook when I am at a hotel or coffee shop with internet access. That means that I don’t have to generate much discipline to avoid checking it. It’s like choosing to keep junk food out of the house. If you really want it, drive to get it. I like that.
So I did. A week ago, I switched back to a flip phone – a “dumbphone” – which only needs to be charged once a week. It is my little pocket-sized “stay off the internet” discipline-generator. My “wouldn’t you rather be reading a book” tool.
And I feel fine. In fact, I quite like it.
Sara Riley Mattson is the author of Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out. Sara has a bunch of stories on her Patreon page, too, which can be found here. To join Sara’s email list, click here.